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'Kitchen Nightmares' recap: Microwaves, meth and miscommunication

Season 6 | Episodes 5 & 6 | “Mangia Mangia” | Aired Apr 25, 2014

Raise your hand if you expect the food you are served at a restaurant to be fresh. Keep it up if you also like it cooked through. Wave it around if you want it served on a plate without the cook’s thumbprint on it and want to enjoy it in a place where the owner, waiters and cooks aren’t shouting obscenities at each other. Before Chef Gordon Ramsay came to Woodland Park, Colorado, you’d have been out of luck, but now — thanks to Chef — you can all eat at Mangia Mangia, the city’s sole Italian restaurant.

Mangia Mangia is owned by Julie Watson, who transformed an old fast-food restaurant into a self-proclaimed fine-dining establishment.

Screams "class," doesn't it?

This restaurant has 99 problems, and a bitch is one. So is a meth-head chef, undercooked food, an obstinate staff and really tacky decor.

Let’s dig right in, shall we?

The problem:
According to the cooks, the biggest problem is Julie and her complete denial that the restaurant sucks. According to Julie, the biggest problem is her incompetent and belligerent chef, Trevor. According to other members of the staff, the biggest problems are Julie and Trevor.

“The restaurant runs like a Jerry Springer Show,” says cook Kevin on the first day Chef Ramsay is there. Ramsay has a front-row seat.

Chef pulls up at Mangia Mangia’s drive-through window, which surprises him given the “fine-dining establishment” designation, but he gives it the benefit of the doubt. After being served thick soup in a styrofoam cup — with a fork — he’s not quite as forgiving. Upon meeting Julie, who tells us Chef Ramsay is “her last resort,” he immediately starts criticizing the tacky décor inside the restaurant: ugly curtains separating the booths, Christmas lights around the ceiling, a giant beige wall. Julie is offended. Oh, Julie, just you wait; he’s just getting warmed up.

Julie tells Chef that Trevor is the source of all the problems in the restaurant. Trevor has no training, has no cooking background and is basically a disrespectful, arrogant little troublemaker. When Chef wonders why she hasn’t fired her head cook, she tells him that it’s just too hard to find help. Janelle, Julie’s daughter who is a server at Mangia Mangia, has a sordid past with Trevor and quickly lets Chef know what a horrible person he is by disclosing Trevor’s recent bouts of domestic violence toward her. For reasons I do not understand, Chef Ramsay decides to allow Trevor to remain alive in the restaurant and cook him a meal.

The meal:
Chef Ramsay orders mushroom-filled ravioli, lasagna, meatballs, veal and salmon. As the cooks begin the preparation, Julie and Trevor immediately begin ripping each other to pieces. There are so many words getting bleeped out that I have a hard time figuring out what they’re saying. Chef hates all his food as much as Julie and Trevor hate each other. It’s undercooked; the sauces are watery; there’s a big, meaty thumbprint on his plate; nothing is fresh; and (gag) the veal is raw. Chef suspects the food is all frozen and questions the cooking methods. Julie is defensive and denies everything. The food isn’t frozen! “Are the meatballs frozen?” asks Chef. “No!” shouts Julie. “Did they come out of the freezer?” Chef wonders. “Yes,” says Julie. Quickly, Chef learns three things: All the food is frozen, most of the food is prepared in the microwaves and Julie is a gigantic liar.

The first team meeting:
Chef, completely disgusted with Mangia Mangia’s food, staff and leadership, scolds the team for its lack of quality control. He gets Julie to admit that she doesn’t order veal very often and that the salmon has been there “for a while.” There’s a lot of shouting and finger-pointing between the staff and Julie, and no one is willing to admit they’re at fault — for anything. Julie breaks down and starts to cry, telling her daughter that her feelings are hurt and that Chef Ramsay was a “little too rough.” This coming from the woman who just chewed her head chef a new a**hole.

Dinner service:
Chef returns (surprisingly) to check out how the kitchen works. It’s quickly apparent that if you know how to put a plate in the microwave and push “start,” you can wear a white jacket and a tall hat in the kitchen at Mangia Mangia. The first scolding comes thanks to some wilted and soggy-looking spinach, which Julie cannot believe looks like that. She’s never had spinach look like that! Chef ventures into the walk-in and discovers about 16 tubs of cooked pasta. That’s approximately 400 servings.

Screenshot 2014-04-25 12.11.53.jpg

Seriously, it’s like Strega Nona has been in Mangia Mangia’s kitchen. Julie can’t believe all the pasta! Seriously, there’s usually only like three tubs! She’s incredulous! Where did all this pasta come from? Julie continues to deny responsibility for anything and accuses Trevor of trying to bury her. Trevor and Kevin chuckle in the kitchen, clearly taking great pleasure at the scolding Julie is getting from Chef.

Perhaps Chef Ramsay’s greatest disappointment in all of Mangia Mangia’s many deficiencies is the use of microwaves to do all the cooking. Julie, of course, blames all the badly cooked food on the fact that idiotic Trevor uses the wrong damn microwave to cook all the frozen food (completely missing the misguided fact that he uses a microwave at all). Everyone begins cussing each other out in the kitchen. Customers are complaining. Chef discovers the breading that is used for the eggplant is also used for the chicken, thereby cross-contaminating it for vegetarians (not to mention the fact that it is a day old). Things are reaching a breaking point. Chef Ramsay goes into the dining room and asks the customers if they expect the food on the menu to be fresh. Duh. Julie can’t take it anymore. EVERYONE IS SO AGAINST HER. She walks out.

Part two (episode 6): 
Chef follows Julie into the parking lot, and all hell breaks loose. Janelle, Trevor and Kevin join the group and things turn ugly as quickly as a Kardashian marriage lasts. There’s hysteria and accusations and crying and Chef is left standing there, mouth agape, wondering why this show isn’t called Hell’s Kitchen.”

The next day, Chef has a come-to-Jesus talk with the group, which quickly escalates into a therapy session. Julie admits to three problems: her agitation, her lack of organization and Trevor. After more finger-pointing and hateful accusations, all the fingers eventually point to Trevor and his abuse of meth. Trevor tearfully acknowledges his problem, as well as the fact that he’s brought his personal baggage to the line for the past six months. Julie finally has the balls (and the cause) to fire him, and a very sympathetic Chef Ramsay takes him outside and encourages him to seek treatment.

Now that the poison is out of their system, the staff at Mangia Mangia is instantly ready for reform!

With the aid of bouncy houses, marching bands, a brand-new interior décor and an entire new — fresh food — menu, Mangia Mangia is ready to relaunch. Chef Ramsay brings in a qualified chef to head the kitchen, and Julie commits to running the line with patience and respect. She’s instantly become so damn agreeable that I’m suspicious. But happily, she turns things around for this dysfunctional team, and with Chef’s tough love, Mangia Mangia finally lives up to Julie’s “fine-dining” distinction — no microwaves allowed.

Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments below!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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